A Vision for Salmon Monitoring and Stewardship on British Columbia’s Central Coast
February 22, 2021
A new report co-authored by the Pacific Salmon Foundation’s (PSF) Salmon Watersheds Program, the Central Coast Indigenous Resource Alliance (CCIRA), the Kitasoo/ Xai’xais, Nuxalk, Heiltsuk, and Wuikinuxv First Nations, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, and regional Charter Patrolmen, outlines a vision for monitoring and stewarding Pacific salmon on the Central Coast of British Columbia (BC).
In recent years, First Nations on the Central Coast have witnessed alarming declines in local salmon populations. “The Central Coast communities depend on abundant salmon for food security, but in the past few years they’ve been struggling to meet these needs,” says Rich Chapple, President of CCIRA. At the same time, investments in salmon monitoring have declined significantly making it challenging to devise evidence-based strategies for salmon conservation and management.
This report identifies practical investments to make in monitoring and stewardship in the region based on First Nations values and priorities. Four high-level goals have been articulated that focus on: (1) strengthening First Nations participation in stewardship and collaborative salmon management, (2) expanding programs that monitor the abundance of adult and juvenile salmon, (3) improving catch monitoring, and (4) evaluating current and future climate pressures on salmon. More than 200 on-the-ground actions were identified to help meet these goals. These actions include making strategic investments in local First Nations capacity for monitoring, engaging youth in salmon monitoring through internship programs, utilizing new technologies like artificial intelligence to support monitoring in remote areas, and implementing mass-marking programs for hatchery-reared salmon.
This work has been instrumental in highlighting where additional monitoring efforts are required to improve our understanding of salmon populations that are socially, culturally, and economically important to communities on the Central Coast.
“Central Coast First Nations are working to develop capacity to manage their marine resources informed by work such as the Monitoring Framework,” adds Rich Chapple. “This framework will serve as a structured guide for strengthening the scientific foundations for fisheries governance approaches that support conservation and recovery efforts for wild Pacific salmon and the communities who depend upon them.”
“The PSF facilitated the process that led to this report, which has the potential to strengthen the scientific foundations for collaborative fisheries management and support conservation and recovery efforts for wild Pacific salmon,” said Michael Meneer, President and CEO of the PSF. “We are committed to being an independent leader and catalyst for Pacific salmon restoration by working with our First Nations collaborators and stakeholders in the years ahead to support local capacity building and renewed investment in salmon monitoring and stewardship on the Central Coast of BC and beyond.”
Support for this project was provided by a grant to the PSF from the Pew Charitable Trusts with the intent of developing a First-Nations-led Monitoring Framework that could help to support emerging collaborative management and governance efforts between Central Coast First Nations and the Government of Canada. The next phase of this work will focus on supporting First Nations’ capacity and designing a coordinated plan to monitor the status of spawning salmon across the region.